Cycling And Pilates: A Perfect Partnership
By Jackie Edwards
With the number of cyclists in the US rising to over 66 million last year, the chances are you own or have access to a bike. While some people use them for travel, and others for fun with the kids, the humble bicycle can actually be a useful part of your fitness routine, particularly in conjunction with strengthening work such as Pilates. Whether you’re working towards a specific fitness goal or recovering from an injury, bringing your bike into your workout can make you stronger.
Cycling for Cardio
Pure Pilates is not traditionally aimed at providing cardiovascular exercise, so building in a little cardio elsewhere makes for a well rounded approach. Cycling raises the heart rate, sending blood pumping around your body, and burning calories. This can help with weight loss, lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of various diseases. A recent study went so far as to show that cycling to work could even cut the risk of developing cancer or heart disease in half. Moreover, cycling is fairly simple and can be as intense as you make it, so it’s suitable for all ages and fitness levels. If you don’t already have a bike, you might like to consider a bike for on and off road adventures, as this will give you greater flexibility.
When it comes to building a stronger, leaner body, Pilates and cycling are perfect partners. Pilates has been shown to be effective in building strong core muscles and strengthening weaker areas caused by illness or injury. The stronger your core, the more powerfully you can cycle. In turn, cycling builds muscles around your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves, providing you with a stable base for your Pilates work. When it comes to rehabilitation from injuries, cycling and Pilates can be used together to rebuild and strengthen the body. A recumbent bike, for example, can alleviate lower back pain and be especially effective when used alongside pilates exercises.
Doubling down on depression
Studies have shown that Pilates can reduce the risk of depression, and provide a boost to mental health. A survey has also reported that strength training such as Pilates results in improved memory and brain function. Similarly, cycling releases a rush of endorphins, the feel good hormone which helps people feel clear minded and happy after exercise. By combining Pilates and cycling in your fitness program, you can enjoy the benefits of both, reducing stress and anxiety levels, leaving you feeling stronger mentally and boosting your brainpower.
While both Pilates and cycling have much to offer as individual disciplines, it’s clear that when combined, they can strengthen you both physically and mentally. From the virtuous circle between them which strengthens your core muscles and improves posture and balance, to the mental health benefits provided by both, it’s clear that they complement each other well. For a well rounded approach to your fitness, make time to get on two wheels now and then. It could be just the boost your body needs.
Jackie Edwards is a former physiotherapist and sports coach who now dedicated to researching, writing and educating the public on various healthcare topics.